American University of Paris Library | Finding and Evaluating a Book

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Finding and Evaluating a Book

Use the online catalog to search for books in the library's collection by author, title, subject terms or keywords.

Follow the help screens and directions in the catalog to facilitate your searching, or check the searching hints guide. Be sure to differentiate between a search by keyword and a search by specific topic (subject term).Full information about each book and its subject areas can be obtained by clicking on the "Bibliographic Information" button. The "Contents" button will lead to subject headings and possibly the table of contents of the book online.

Make a note of the location of the book (reserve, reference, Monttessuy stacks, etc.), its status (charged, renewed or available, etc.) and its call number. Books are located in open stacks in call number order.

With this information, if the book is available, you should be able to find the book. If not:

  1. Look in the oversized book section (far end of reading room)
  2. Look on nearby reshelving units
  3. If the book is not on a reshelving unit, go to the Navigation Desk and place a SEARCH on it

Reserve Materials

Reserve items are books, periodical articles, or audio-visual materials selected by professors for required reading by students in their courses. The Library keeps these items behind the Navigation Desk, and students may borrow them for a limited-time, in-library use during the day. Some items also circulate overnight.

To find reserve materials in the online catalog, you may click directly on course reserve and select by your instructor's name and course number from the pulldown menus.

Reserve materials cannot be borrowed like other library books. Most can only be consulted in the Library. Check the online catalog to see if the item is 'available' and write down the complete call number. Go to the Navigation Desk with your valid ID and the call number of the item. The person at the Navigation Desk will keep your ID until you return the item.

Reserve Policies


Students may wonder: how do I know if my sources are reliable and appropriate for the work I am doing in my course? One technique that can help is to ask some questions about the information you are using. For example:

When you first look at a record for a book on the online catalog, click on the "Bibliographic" link near the top of the page to see what subject headings are listed. Are these appropriate for further searching? Do they help you decide if this book is appropriate for your research? Look at the publication date. Is the currency of the book important for your topic? If so, is this book recent enough?

After deciding which books you might possibly want to check out, write down the call numbers carefully. Call numbers are organized by topic so look at the books just before and after the book you are looking for to see if other books on the shelf are appropriate for your research.

Before checking out a book, try to evaluate whether or not it might be useful for your topic. Skim the first few pages of the book to find out the purpose of the book. Look at the table of contents and see if your topic is mentioned in the chapter headings. Look at the index and try to look up important keywords from your topic statement. If the book doesn't seem to cover your topic, go to the next one. You can now decide which books might be the most useful for your research without having to check them all out and take them all home!

You can try using Proquest Research Companion which has an Evaluating Information section. You can read how to evaluate sources and you can 'plug in' a book title and see what it says.

Go to Evaluate Information, click on Source Evaluation Aid. Next click on Book and put in the ISBN (international standard book number) or title of a book. Click the magnifying glass and see the results. It will list the author, publisher, etc. and list an audience as well as the subject of the book. this should help you get started with identifying how useful the title is.